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New Mexico, Navajo Nation sign water pact

April 19, 2005 at 7:28 PM

SANTA FE, N.M., April 19 (UPI) -- New Mexico and Navajo officials Tuesday signed an historic settlement resolving claims of the Navajo Nation to water from the San Juan River.

Gov. Bill Richardson, state Attorney General Patricia Madrid and Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley signed the pact that resolves water rights questions between the two sovereign governments.

"This agreement also sets the stage for future economic development in the Four Corners region -- which has been jeopardized in the past because of the uncertainty of available water rights," Richardson said.

The settlement adjudicates water rights and provides associated water development projects that benefit the Navajo Nation in exchange for a release of claims to water that could have potentially displaced existing non-Navajo users in the river basin.

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will be the cornerstone of proposed development projects in the area of northwest New Mexico.

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